The Japanese agricultural workers' program: Race, labor, and cold war diplomacy in the fields, 1956-1965

Mireya Loza

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


In the early 1950s, California growers' associations were gravely concerned about their heavy reliance on Mexico for guestworkers, given the potential end of the program. In order to maintain a controlled labor pool, California growers introduced a new guestworker model that could possibly supplant the Bracero Program. They placed pressure on government officials to approve the Japanese Agricultural Workers' Program (JAWP). In an attempt to sanitize the program, growers' discourses around the JAWP intersected with emerging visions of ''model minorities'' creating a ''model bracero,'' who was neither Mexican nor a traditional laborer in the eyes of growers. Additionally, growers often insisted these Japanese workers were ''students'' learning agricultural technology and U.S. democracy. In response to these varied diplomatic representations, activists, journalists, and communities sought to uncover what they saw as another form of racialized worker exploitation by calling attention to first-hand accounts of the Japanese guestworkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-690
Number of pages30
JournalPacific Historical Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2017



  • agriculture
  • Bracero Program
  • California
  • guestworkers
  • Japanese AgriculturalWorkers' Program
  • Japanese migration
  • JapaneseAmerican Citizens League

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History

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